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Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did…

Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time (1974)

by Patrick Robertson

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This has been an excellent addition to our reference shelf. As a family of homeschoolers and trivia maniacs we can't have too much of this information at our finger tips. I assume most people wouldn't devour it cover to cover, but I do find it fun just to pick up and open to a page and start reading. So I would have to give it high marks as both reference and entertainment! ( )
  ellynv | Jul 5, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Well-compiled book for all sorts of random firsts that you didn't know you needed to know before now. It's worth having it for trivia buffs, or for people who just have 5 minutes to pick up information.

Being here in the US, it's also interesting to see the firsts in the US where possible. ( )
  ryan.adams | Jul 1, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am a trivia junkie, and was really looking forward to getting this book. I wasn't disappointed - there's an incredible amount of information presented in an accessible way. I haven't finished it yet - it's a great book to pick up when you have 5 minutes, and I want to portion it out so I can enjoy it for a while! ( )
  sadiegrrl | May 4, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a fun book to own. One can just open the book anywhere to find an interesting fact or achievement. It is desinged for the information hound, and I am one. The index is pretty good for finding something specific. Obviously, you just don't read through a book like this. It is more modern era oriented and shines on to the United States. There are entries for paper money (China, ~935) and paper clip (Norway, 1900), but none for paper itself. It does reflect mankind's curiosity and inventiveness, and is a welcome addition to my library. For the subway entry, I might have liked seeing some reference to the first electrified subway in Europe that made intermediates tops between end-points, that is the one in Budapest, Hungary (otherwise, London, England). The article on buses is rather interesting. Horse drawn omnibuses and stage coaches preceded the motor bus, and these apt noted. The problem for the transport historian is trying to figure out when the last horse omnibus or stage coach operated. Note, a horse-drawn railway still operates in the Isle of Man ( )
  vpfluke | Mar 18, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
From the very first page to the last you'll be astounded at the amount of information included in "Robertson's Book of Firsts". Written in the style of an encyclopedia (A to Z as opposed to by topic) every page contains eye-opening facts about just about everything. Want to know the first person to put a slice of cheese on a burger? You'll find out not only who, but when and where. Curious about the first novel by an American? You might be surprised to find out it was a woman in 1752. How about the first operatic performance (in 1735), the first college to admit women (in 1833), the first ice cream (first documented in 1672), or the first restaurant (in 1766).

This book is chock-a-block with well-researched facts and, for those of us who love trivia, it's a wonderful resource for answering those previously unanswerable questions. Obviously the gathering of information and the writing of the book was a massive labor of love for the author, Patrick Robertson. According to the end piece, he has been compiling any and all bits regarding the first of anything for 60 years. While some sections may not be as interesting as others, you're sure to find many others that are confounding and relevant. The author starts with a topic, such as the first machine gun, and then also provides information about the first used in warfare and then the first automatic machine gun, so each general topic is fully covered in every incarnation.

Although many of the firsts did occur in America, and some may find this to be US-centric, because so much information is included no one country should feel slighted. Remember, he is drawing on printed material for a lot of his references and if it is not available to confirm then it has been left out. There are many, many examples of firsts out of Europe and Asia. Several times the author asks for the reader to provide any information they may have which lends a tone of democracy to the book: he does not pretend to be the final authority on each and every topic.

This book is extremely entertaining, well written, and a welcome addition to the trivia lovers bookshelf. Highly recommended to anyone who loves facts and loves being right. ( )
  TheFlamingoReads | Mar 9, 2012 |
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"The one-of-a-kind encyclopedia of the first time for everything, from advertisements to zippers."--Jacket.

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